If you want to understand the present, study the past

A poster for mask wearing and social distancing
A Nazi propaganda poster

My mother was brought up in a very Jewish family in Poland. In the early 1930s her parents — my grandparents — took her and her brother out of Poland to Belgium and then to London. They knew that something dreadful was going to happen and they wanted to move to a safe place. Like many truely religious people they were guided by intuitive knowledge that most people, particularly in the West, have cut themselves off from.

As Hitler built up troops in the 1930s and used his propaganda machine to indoctrinate the German people, many countries were sympathetic, or at least ambivalent, to the German war machine. Swastikas were displayed on US streets. Most people in the UK simply wanted to be left alone. Many people felt that Germany had been treated unfairly at the Treaty of Versailles, which resulted in crushing dept to the German people, and they were simply doing what they needed to do to get people back at work.

And so when Neville Chamberlain came back from a meeting with Hitler in 1938 and declared ‘Peace in our time’, he was treated like a hero.

Just two days before the deadline, Hitler agreed to meet in Munich with Chamberlain, Italian leader Benito Mussolini and French premier Edouard Daladier to discuss a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. The four leaders, without any input from Czechoslovakia in the negotiation, agreed to cede the Sudetenland to Hitler. Chamberlain also separately drafted a non-aggression pact between Britain and Germany that Hitler signed.

My mother told me of the disgust she felt with Chamberlain. In the summer of 1939 her cousin came over from Poland. My grandmother invited him to stay as it was safer in London then it would be in Warsaw, she told him. In those days there were not the strict immigration requirements that exist nowadays. He declined. He said they welcomed the Germans as he was sure they couldn’t be more anti-semitic than the Poles were. He said they waved to the German planes when they flew over.

A few years later he and all the rest of my mother’s family in Poland were in concentration camps. Only one survived the war.

When we look back on history it’s all cut and dried. There are the good people who support freedom and justice, and there are the bad people such as Hitler. The indoctrination of the German people couldn’t possibly happen today could it? We are far too intelligent and anyway we have Science.

During Hitler’s rise there were a range of attitudes towards the Nazis, as one sees with any ideology. On the one extreme were the anti-facists. The people who went on to build the resistance. Then there were the people who didn’t like it but went along with it, those who were indifferent, the supporters, and the true believers, fanatics even. Those today who believe that ‘Science’ would prevent such an event taking place today can look to the Nazi book burnings of 1933. Such an event couldn’t happen nowadays could it because we respect learning and education too much, unlike these primitive-thinking Nazis? And no one nowdays would possibly support concentration camps. In fact any nation that uses such instruments of control would be held accountable by the UN and ostracised by other countries.

Except that there are alarming parallels with the events of the 1930s.

It is sometimes taught in schools (and held as a trueism by some political groups) that the USA overcame the depression of the 1920s and 1930s through Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’. In fact, the depression was overcome through the Second World War. Countries use war as a way out of depression, which is why a war is imminent now (probably between the USA and China).

Whereas Hitler used nationalism and racism as his rallying cry, the rally cry now is Science and Minority Rights. Using these catch phrases, people can be driven to support extreme ideas. Even concentration camps.

In Melbourne, Australia they are subject to a particulaly harsh lockdown. The original cry — to flatten the curve — has been replaced by the cry to stop all cases (an impossible aim). To bring this about, a state of emergency has been declared which gives the government draconian powers. A curfew, travel limited to 5km, the police stop people who don’t wear masks etc. The prime mover in all this is Danial Andrews, the left-wing premier of the State of Victoria. Coincidently (or not), he signed up to China’s Belt and Road initiative. China, which uses concentration camps, is anti-democratic and opposes free speech. They don’t need to burn books in China, instead they very tightly control the internet.

The supporters of ‘Science’ appear to have aligned themselves with the Chinese ideology. They don’t burn books, instead they simply censor what can appear on certain websites (and what is reported is the thin end of the wedge. Many sites that don’t report the government line are removed). People think that they must be right because they are doing the opposite of what Hitler did. Instead of racism, they preach tolerance (or a version of tolerance). Instead of nationalism, they preach globalism. Instead of ignorance and religion they preach ‘Science’ (or a perverted version of science). And so they do exactly what Hitler did whilst claiming to be the complete opposite.

Apparently, Danial Andrews is still popular. The people who are held in a police state support him and seemingly don’t care that he has aligned himself to a state that uses concentration camps and restricts free speech. After all, he supports Science doesn’t he?

By Philip Braham on .



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